Government lobbies to reopen former Ford factory in Bahia

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The Brazilian government is reportedly negotiating the reopening of a car-making factory that belonged to Ford in Camaçari, in the northeastern state of Bahia. The unit would be taken over by China’s BYD, the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer.

On Saturday, Labor Minister Luiz Marinho confirmed the negotiations on Twitter. A day later, Bahia Governor Jerônimo Rodrigues wrote that the factory will be a key talking point for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during his upcoming trip to China, scheduled for late March.

Ford ended activities at its Camaçari industrial complex after 20 years of operation in January 2021, laying off 4,000 workers. Pointing to “significant losses” of profits in previous years, Ford also announced the closure of its factories in Taubaté, in São Paulo state, and Horizonte, in Ceará — putting an end to all its operations in Brazil.

Camaçari was home to the first car factory in the Northeast and, for that very reason, became a development hub in the years that followed. The closure of activities worsened the region’s already fragile economic scenario, especially for the service providers who settled in the area to serve the operation.

Re-opening the complex, even under the direction of a different automaker, would be a great victory for the Lula administration. Bahia is the fourth-largest electoral college in the country and a reliable stronghold for the president’s Workers’ Party.

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